RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Judas Priest – Defenders of the Faith (3-CD 30th Anniversary Set)

Rating: A

Okay, Judas Priest has been busy with a new album and tour and all, so they are a year late on this anniversary.  We all understand that Defenders of the Faith was released in 1984.  Doing the math, 2015-1984=31 years, and yes, they can subtract. Enough already!  Okay, it’s a bit Spinal Tap to be a year off, but who in the hell would say ‘OUR 31st ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL EDITION’?’  No one, so deal with it… oh and you WILL deal with it.  You know why?  I will tell ya… Because this m*ther is a BEAST of an album that has had the original ten tracks remastered by the original producer, the sixth member of JP, back in the day, Tom Allom.  It sounds amazing.  Oh, I forgot to mention there is a special two-disc concert from the Defenders of the Faith Tour recorded on May 5, 1984 (almost 31 years ago).  The concert kicks arse as the Brits say... more on the live disc later, as we have a lot to say about this sucker! 

Judas Priest was on a roll in the early 1980’s.  They began the decade releasing one of Heavy Metal’s all-time greatest albums in British Steel.  After that album’s massive success, they slipped a bit with Point of Entry (this writer LOVES that album, but I get why some fans think it was a back slide).  Critics said Priest was down for the count, but they responded in 1982 with their overall best album they ever created in Screaming for Vengeance

Riding high as the true Metal Gods, their only true rivals were the worn-out Black Sabbath and those English upstarts, Iron Maiden. Priest forged Metal into the future.  They were the best at what they did at the time, hands down.  So, when it came time to follow up their massive album, the pressure was on not to release another Point of Entry.  The band went into the studio and delivered the goods, so to speak.  Defenders of the Faith continued Priest’s reign and solidified them as the Masters of Metal for all-time. 

The album was a shift, bringing new sounds for a modern Metal environment.  Yet, this was still Judas Priest.  Halford, Tipton, Downing and Hill were defenders of the metal faithful, leading the way for all angry white male teenagers around the globe!  While Defenders is not forged out of the classic mold of Screaming for Vengeance, and, to be honest not quite as good, overall it is still a classic.  “Freewheel Burning” was, at the time, probably the heaviest song ever released, that is until “Jawbreaker,” the next song on the album, queues up!  “The Sentinel” is another classic Priest tune.  This song shows them taking the best of their past and pushing ahead into the future. 

“Rock Hard Ride Free” and “Love Bites” were more poppy, but they rocked hard enough.  “Eat Me Alive” was one of the heaviest moments in Priest history and “Some Heads are Gonna Roll” embodies all the classic elements that make up a great Judas Priest song.  “Night Comes Down” was a tune akin a bit to “Beyond the Realms of Death” and the eerie tale was welcomed in the midst of the rest of the Heavy Metal powerhouse of an album.  When the final cut fades away and drifts off into the sunset, which happens to be the title track, Judas Priest had another classic recorded performance in the can. 

In 1984, due to the massive worldwide success of albums such as British Steel and Screaming for Vengeance, Metal was reaching more people, especially in the USA.  Priest was at the forefront of the Metal movement and with Defenders of the Faith they created a way to remain faithful to their early fans, and to their roots, and take the genre to a more massive audience.  Any Metal band, anywhere, that came after these ground-breaking achievements, owes Priest big-time. 

Now, earlier in this article it was mentioned that there was a two-disc live set from 1984 included in the 30th anniversary release.  Indeed there is!  While Iron Maiden may be remembered for vocalist Bruce Dickinson’s over-repeated wail on their classic live album from 1985, “SCREAM FOR ME, LONG BEACH,” it was Priest who this town was screaming for first!  This show, recorded in Long Beach, California on May 5, 1984 contains 21 Priest classics.  The album sounds excellent and one wonders why this sat in the vault for 30, err….make that nearly 31 years.  Thankfully the Metal Gods brought this sucker to life! 

The set list is a prefect blend of old, classic and new.  From the early days Priest performed “Sinner,” “Victim of Changes” and “The Green Manalishi (with the Two-Pronged Crown.)”  From the British Steel era they played “Metal Gods,” “Breaking the Law,” “Grinder” and “Living After Midnight.”  Screaming was represented by “The Hellion/Electric Eye,” “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming.”  The rest of the show is 8-tracks from Defenders of the Faith.  After listening to this all one can say is ‘wow’ and all one can think is, “I wish I’d have been there!”  Now, you can, at least in a nostalgic spirit!

Judas Priest is still alive and kicking, and heavy as hell in 2015, but they were something to behold in 1984 as well.  They still care about their fans and want to celebrate the 31st, err 30th anniversary (well you get the point) with their fansThe band understands how this whole ‘rock-god’ thing works, and they are more than happy to keep the flame of metal alive for as long as they are able kick ass and take names.  Long Live the Mighty Priest! 

If you don’t buy this one, then... you’re just dead inside! 

CD1 ‘Defenders of the Faith’ Remastered Tracklisting:
1. ‘Freewheel Burning’
2. ‘Jawbreaker’
3. ‘Rock Hard Ride Free’
4. ‘The Sentinel’
5. ‘Love Bites’
6. ‘Eat Me Alive’
7. ‘Some Heads Are Gonna Roll’
8. ‘Night Comes Down’
9. ‘Heavy Duty’
10. ‘Defenders of the Faith’

CD2 Live at Long Beach Arena, California May 5th, 1984:
1. ‘Love Bites’
2. ‘Jawbreaker’
3. ‘Grinder’
4. ‘Metal Gods’
5. ‘Breaking the Law’
6. ‘Sinner’
7. ‘Desert Plains’
8. ‘Some Heads Are Gonna Roll’
9. ‘The Sentinel’
10. ‘Rock Hard Ride Free’

CD3 Live at Long Beach Arena, California 5th May 1984:
1. ‘Night Comes Down’
2. ‘The Hellion’
3. ‘Electric Eye’
4. ‘Heavy Duty’
5. ‘Defenders of the Faith’
6. ‘Freewheel Burning’
7. ‘Victim of Changes’
8. ‘The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown)’
9. ‘Living After Midnight’
10. ‘Hell Bent For Leather’
11. ‘You’ve Got Another Thing Coming’

By Jeb Wright